Crossfit to get fit


Joe Sigler

I awoke at 5:30 AM, just early enough to almost fully regret the decision I had made just a day earlier. I would be joining my friend, Sr. Spencer Carl, for my first ever Crossfit class at Crossfit Holland. Just by waking up at this inhumane hour I could see the dedication it takes to do Crossfit three to five times a week, every week. And that was before I  completed the  workout.

  Going into this experience, I expected every person there to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and to be able to lift absurd amounts of weight. I also envisioned a very intense atmosphere, an atmosphere where one would be shunned for not knowing what to do, and if you needed help, it was never coming. My expectations for this workout could not have been further from reality.

  I showed up early with my water bottle, shorts, and t-shirt and walked in with Carl when he arrived. I was greeted with a strong smell of sweat, rubber weights, and hard work. I was also met with a friendly smile and introduction by the owner, Nat Coffman. Six or seven other crossfitters were there already and all of them introduced themselves courteously. Carl explained to me that everybody there was a regular and that I was the only newbie, but I already felt like a member of their big, happy workout family. My preconceived notion that the vibe of this place would be intimidating was proven wrong before we even started the workout.  After a quick dynamic warm up we got to it. The regulars were even helping me with my technique later on in the workout.

  Going in, I did not think the transition to Crossfit would be very difficult for me, since I have played numerous sports: baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming, water polo, etc. You name it, I bet I have played it. To improve in any of these athletic pursuits, one must practice and work out. Most practices include perfecting a certain skill that pertains to the physical movement of the sport. For example, as a defensive lineman in football, I have practiced exploding out of my stance in pursuit of the quarterback, or as a soccer player I practiced planting my non-kicking foot in exactly the correct place in order to achieve the strongest kick. As a basketball player, I practiced the perfect follow through on my jump shot to create the precise backspin I needed. These movements are exclusive to their respective sports, and outside of their sports, in the real world, they do not really help one be a healthier human being. That is where Crossfit comes in.

  Each workout starts with a portion called “Strength”. It is a strength training exercise that usually consists of a small amount of repetitions and an increasing amount of weight as the set proceeds. During Strength, one focuses extensively on proper technique. “Doing the strength exercise properly is the best way to get stronger. Having perfect technique is much more important down the road than trying to force your way through a massive amount of weight. Also, doing Strength helps us perfect techniques and movements that translate to our higher intensity workouts,” Carl said. Crossfitters train hard during Strength so that they can later work even harder during the Workout of the Day (WOD), the main exercise.

 After Strength, the jokes stopped and the encouragement started. Cries of “We got this!” and “Let’s go bigger today!” echoed throughout. It was WOD time. We prepared the mats, bars, and rowing machines needed to complete this WOD while Coffman started the countdown clock. Because of the limited amount of rowing machines and my inexperience, I was assigned to the second round. I was anxious to get going, but I knew it would help me to watch and learn from the regulars in the first group. The intense looks on their face paired with the sweat dripping from their brow as the first-rounders rowed made it easy for me to infer that I was in for a heck of a workout. My inference proved extremely accurate. After rowing, I was thrown into a circuit of sit-ups and snatches, an exercise where participants thrust the bar over their head. When I finished, I was told my time of just over ten minutes was very respectable for a first timer. I felt accomplished and proud, but more than anything, I felt more sore than I have ever been. Ten minutes worth of working out, whether it be swimming, throwing, or general weight lifting, never made me feel like I felt after I completed the WOD. After a normal workout, I usually have a muscle group or two that is sore, but after this workout, every muscle was screaming. “You’re never not sore. That’s the beauty of it. Every workout is so different so that your muscles never get used to it and you’re always sore. That’s how we get stronger faster,” Carl said.

  I got my first Crossfit session in, and I learned that this workout is by far the best workout that I have found. These exercises are not like traditional training for individual sports. Unlike traditional training, Crossfit uses every major muscle group during every workout. Traditional workouts only focus on movements that are lower intensity and specific to that sport. Its constant variance, emphasis on fitness that extends outside of the weight room, and its extremely high intensity makes it that much better than a normal sports workout.

  These movements and techniques help one become stronger, more flexible, and better conditioned. I knew it would be intense, but I had no idea just how intense. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, and it kicked my butt. Will I be back? Only if I want to become a better version of myself.

  If one would like to join me, Crossfit Holland is located at 241 W. Lakewood Blvd. Suite 20 on the north side of Holland near Wendy’s. The first class is free. After that, it costs about one hundred dollars a month but it is cheaper if one signs up for multiple months at a time.